The Parks

How to summarize the last several days? We’ve been in the back country with little time or internet access to write, but we have really seen some amazing things. Yellowstone has upheld its reputation as one of the world’s foremost natural wonders. The steam pits, the mud volcanoes, the geysers, the acid baths, the grand canyon of Yellowstone, the falls, the rivers, the trees, the wildlife… It is a place to be seen again and again, especially since the “exhibits” are in a constant state of flux. We found that the entire place was really just one big volcano which continues to bubble and spit and morph on a daily basis. What makes it so extraordinary is that it is largely forest with these little pockets of profound geothermal activity. Trappers and hunters and explorers would be traipsing through the woods and come across these super-heated pools of water: iridescent blues and greens and red and browns all oozing out in various states of cooling. Or they would see the mysterious steam rising from “vents” in various pockets throughout the place. The longer we were there the more we felt ourselves in a never land of mystery and wonder.

Last night we moved our tent to the Grand Teton National Park which is located immediately to the south of Yellowstone. It is another place of incredible natural beauty, though of a different kind than Yellowstone. It is less obviously volcanic in origin, but, as we learned this morning at a Ranger talk a fault line runs right up the middle of the park at the base of the tetons. These are spectacular mountains that rise as if from the plains. They seem to sprout out of nowhere and dominate the park and the view from every angle. It is not as big as Yellowstone, so we spent only today driving through and seeing things. We did take a short hike and saw some of the woods and the streams, etc. The young Ranger told us during his talk that “I guarantee you’ll come back here.” I thought him a bit presumptuous, but the longer we spent in the parks the more I began to feel he was right. The creation is simply too wonderful to not see again.

In particular for me was the chance to drink from a mountain stream. “It’s just melted snow,” we were told. I don’t usually just bend down and drink from a stream, never really knowing what sorts of things find their way into the water upstream. But, in this case I could see what was upstream: the mountains of our national parks. It’s the closest thing one can come to unsullied wilderness. So, I drank. And, it was cold and clear and tasted like snow. How could you not come back to that?

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